Press Release – Examiner – The Biggest Week of the Year

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Matt Beem
President,
Hartsook Companies, Inc.

The biggest week of the year

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Independence, MO – With only six days left in 2009, many people are already focused on the new year.

Not fundraisers.

While some philanthropists have given their share by this time each year, others make their largest gifts in the days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy blogged about year-end giving in November 2007. You can read the discussion at http://philanthropy.com/giveandtake/article/389/is-the-fourth-quarter-really-charitys-busiest-time.

The Chronicle’s statistics indicate donors make about a quarter of the year’s charitable gifts between October and December. But the majority of fundraisers who posted responses said the period is by far their most productive.

You don’t have to look far to see evidence of their claim: If Hartsook Companies’ client work is any indication, the Salvation Army’s annual Christmas campaign nets more than 50 percent of the organization’s charitable commitments. Learn more about the campaign at www.salvationarmyusa.org.

I know what you’re thinking: “Statistics and web sites are great, Matt, but how do they affect me?”

Good question. And since you’ve asked, I’m happy to share my thoughts. If you’re a fundraiser trying to make the most of the 52nd week of 2009:

n Identify last year’s 25 largest donors that haven’t given this year. Contact them – in person is best, but phone calls will do – and tell them you miss them. Remind them why your mission is more important than ever, citing examples of increased demand for your services, and ask them to give at last year’s gift level in the final week of 2009.

n Identify this year’s 25 largest donors who gave more last year than they have in 2009. Contact them and express thanks for their support, making a special effort to share the difference their giving makes in your ability to carry out your mission. Then describe the increased demand for your services and invite them to give an additional amount in the last week of the year to carry their support to or beyond last year’s.

n Keep the office open. You never know when year-end gifts will seek you out. Many 52nd-week donors want to discuss their philanthropy, and being in the office when your surprise gift comes knocking could spell the difference for your organization’s fourth-quarter fundraising success.

If you’re a philanthropist wanting to do your share in the 52nd week of 2009:

• Support the organizations you did last year but haven’t this year. Your philanthropy has enabled them to deliver important services in the past. They may need you now more than ever.

• Step up giving to organizations you supported at greater levels last year than you have in 2009. The U.S. nonprofit sector delivered more than $300 billion in services last year. Your additional support could make a critical difference for the organizations that rely on you.

• Visit your favorite organizations’ development offices to deliver year-end gifts in person. If their staff members are smart, they’ll be waiting to receive your support and share their thanks.

My year-end checks are already written. If you’re one of my 13 readers, you know which organizations will receive them.

Writing them felt good, but dropping them off will feel even better. Stay tuned for future columns on the topic.

Or, better yet, try it yourself. I’m confident you and your favorite nonprofit organizations will be glad you did.

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